For any given job opening, HR personnel and hiring managers are deluged with CV’s. Since they don’t have the time or resources to interview everyone, they are always looking for ways to weed out candidates as quickly as possible.
In fact, some merely glance at each resume before deciding whether to toss it in the “yes” or “no” pile. So, it’s imperative that you make those few seconds count.
To compete well in todays job-market, you must tailor your CV according to the job description you are applying to. If you forward a generic CV, you significantly lower your chance of a response and certainly the possibility of an invitation to an interview is highly unlikely.
If you want your CV to be shortlisted, you have to make it very easy for the employer to see why you are the ideal candidate for the role by emphasising your relevant skills and experience. The way your CV is presented will also be subject to scrutiny. Below is a general guide to help you create the perfect CV.
Make a list of CV bullet points that include primary duties, industry relevant keywords and achievements. Designating the time to write, review and revise these bullet points will ensure they are well written and full of meaning. By completing this step first, it will be easy to tailor your CV for each position.
Update your skills section. Add any new skills you’ve gained, and remove anything that is a little dated (nobody wants to hear that you have Microsoft Word experience anymore—they expect it).
To tailor your CV for a role, read the job-description and understand what type of a person the company considers an outstanding candidate. Having already prepared your list of bullet-points, you can now switch them depending on what the role requires. You can also easily tweak your CV bullet-points, exchanging one word with another and using specific words the company includes in its job description and responsibilities. Of course, tailoring your CV doesn’t require a total rewrite each time, you can reuse many of the same bullet points for multiple positions and companies. Tailoring your CV means you review the position requirements beforehand and emphasise what is most relevant. This can include soft skills, bullet points under specific jobs held, and even entire sections of your CV for example – moving the education section to the top for a company that stressed academic achievement (Level 8 Honours Degree).
What have you achieved in your previous roles that showcases your potential to execute the responsibilities of the position. After reading the job description requirements, choose a few requirements or skills to target with each bullet point. For example if you have figures where you made cost savings or data results that showcase your accomplishments, include one in each bullet point.
Your first step from application towards interview is how your CV makes an impression on the person reading it. Think about how the information is presented on the page. Do you have your name at the top of the page? Are margins consistent throughout the document? Is the chosen font type and pitch (size) easy to read? Is relevant information placed together i.e. all of your employment history together running from newest to oldest? Is your contact information included and, if so, is it up-to-date? And is all of this information concise?Double check that formatting is consistent across your CV. You want all headers to be in the same style, all indentations to line up, all bullet points to match, and the like. You don’t want the styling to look sloppy!
Whether you call it a personal statement or simply label it ‘core skills and experience’, every CV should start with a strong opener. This can either be a short personal statement or, if you have a lot of relevant experience to talk about, detailed bullet points. Choose the CV bullet points that help you best sell yourself. Consider each company and individual recruiter/hiring manager as someone you’re persuading. The CV is convincing the relevant person why you are the best candidate for the job.
Finally, don’t forget to check for spelling and grammar mistakes! In CV land typos are a big no no. They are simply unforgivable. Grammar should be flawless, sentences should be sharp and punchy and your core message should be immediately identifiable.
Article by Fearghal Keane (Senior Recruitment Consultant)
Joe Robbins is co-founder of CareerWise Recruitment. A graduate of the University of Limerick (Degree in Business Studies, 1985), Joe worked in the UK for five years where he specialised in materials management, production management and plant management for a number of companies.
He returned to Ireland in 1992 to become Operations Manager for a Cork-based start-up, FMC Automotive Division which was subsequently taken over by Snap-on Equipment. Joe managed the business re-location of this company to Shannon in 1997 before setting up CareerWise Recruitment in 1999.
He is a committee member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Mid-West region, and a former Director and Vice President of the Shannon Chamber of Commerce. Joe is former Chairperson of the Sixmilebridge Camogie Club and current Chairperson of the Clare County Camogie Board.
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